From Rack to Reel: Horror & Genre Comics fit for the Big Screen

From Rack to Reel: Horror & Genre Comics fit for the Big Screen

If you’re a Horror Geek like me that means you’re probably socially maladjusted to be a Comic Book Geek too. There’s been a strong push from Hollywood to turn comic books into summer tent-pole movies, from another reboot of Spider-Man, and The Fantastic Four, to a prequel with X-Men: First Class and Christopher Nolan’s last installment of the Batman franchise; it seems Tinsel Town can’t get enough treating comic books as if they’re only colored in storyboards. Only recently with the success of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead with AMC have the slick suits and agency sharks started paying attention to the world of Horror comics. It’s only going to be a matter of time, before you see a slew of adaptations rather than a slow trickle. 30 Days of Night wasn’t just a shot in the dark. Some folks have slowly, but steadily been testing the waters. Eric Powell’s The Goon got the CGI treatment with David Fincher producing and is expected soon.  Vertigo’s Preacher has been in development hell for years. Hack/Slash is still supposedly on track to bring slasher hunting to the big screen with an adaptation of Steve Niles’ Wake the Dead close behind. And while one can still hold out hopes for their pulp favorites being done right there’s always Constantine and The Watchmen to contend with as reminders of Hollywood’s true nature. I say if these Blue Tooth sporting Vikings from California are going to continue raping and pillaging the box office at least take a crack at some of my suggestions for comic books to receive the big screen treatment. Call that sacrilege if you will for a comic book fan to want their favortie stories at the cineplex, but I’m kinda tired of all these cape wearing suckers delivering less than they promised. At the very least, maybe you’ll find a new title to check out from the racks at your local comic shop.

Bob Fingerman’s RECESS PIECES – Elementary school is a tough time in one’s childhood. There’s the trouble of fitting in, making friends, bullies, the onset of adolescence around the corner and in this tale; Zombies. The cast of characters covers every demographic you’d find in public school. These tykes must contend with adults and anyone who reaches puberty as they turn into a slack-jawed brain chompers after an overzealous Chemistry Teacher tries to reanimate the dead in a school experiment. Imagine a more contemporary version of The Monster Squad trapped inside a school and having the hack their way out a legion of the walking dead and you’re on the right track. The illustrations are fun and light with the zombies done up in a way that would make Robert Rodriguez recall Planet Terror.

Warren Ellis’ BLACK GAS – You know those parts in the film Event Horizon where they show a glimpse into the hell that awaits the souls of that ill fated starship? Well if you’re a glutton for punishment like me and re-watched them in super slow-mo then you’ll understand the graphic and twisted nature of Black Gas. A volcano erupts, spewing forth a large black cloud that drifts across the bay and begins to contaminate the populace. For whatever reason, this dark fumigant infects people by awakening the vilest parts of the human psyche. Rage and sexual aggression spill out of these citizens like the black goo from their mouths as they are like the infected RAGE victims of 28 Days Later on crack. The illustrations here are done with tremendous skill depicting some of the most stomach turning events of mankind unraveling from the inside out. This could be a gore-hound’s wet dream if they don’t skimp on the ultra violence that permeates the entire story.

Vertigo’s GANGLAND – A collected anthology of several talented writers and artists, imagine if you will a Creepshow style film told with the same themes of death and gruesome murder, but only this time done with organized crime. Each tale presents itself from a wide array of scenarios; some are throughout history, others in foreign countries, but always with the same thread tying them together. It’s all hit-men, and moral ambiguity throughout for a tale well worth presenting if you’re willing to break this code of silence.

James Callahan’s ROTTING IN DIRTVILLE – Seems Martians have begun to invade the world with giant robots and laser beams. While the denizens squirrel away their supplies and rations, life in a random rural town can’t seem to be bothered. While the sensible folks stockpile for impending doom, the local teenagers bound about with even more reckless abandon. Young Milton has just lost his parents and must chop wood to pay for their funeral as his home threatens to fall over at any moment. Betsy is a teenage neighbor who takes notice of Milton when she’s not being tormented by her brother Russell and his pack of delinquent misfits straight out of Lean On Me. As the state of lawlessness increases the teenagers are confronted with the invading armada of aliens that infect the townspeople in a style similar to the Borg from Star Trek. Half human, half machine and all blood hungry and equally depicted. The story blends copious amounts of style from the 50s to punk barreling along like a hot rod jalopy ready to fall apart without warning.

Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely’s WE3 – The US Government has been experimenting on animals. Not rubbing shampoo in their little eyes, but instead outfitting a cat, a dog, and a rabbit with amplified intelligence and bio-mechanical armor with a wide array of weapons. Seems Uncle Sam was looking for a new batch of assassins, ones that could sneak in, eliminate their target, and yet be completely expendable as well as guarantee utter deniability. More than effective at the task of killing and working together as a team this group of animals is ordered put down when the project is terminated. This band of creatures escape and the military gives chase with bloody results. This adaptation would be a welcome spin on films like Benji or Homeward Bound, but in a way that would make fan-boys cream their shorts.

Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore’s BATTLE POPE – Kirkman has a bit of success to leverage now that AMC has a new hit based on The Walking Dead. If I were him I would bet it all on Battle Pope. This story is so tongue in cheek it’ll poke through the other side. Seems the Pope, for all his piety, hasn’t been practicing what he’s been preaching. Trained in martial arts and the ways of the Vatican, our Pope here did whatever he felt like instead; bedding women, smoking, and taking life for granted. All the good times end when the rapture comes and the Pope is left on Earth with all the other unsaved souls. Times are harsh as gangs and demons roam what’s left of the landscape looking for trouble. When the Pope is murdered by a demon seeking revenge, God himself resurrects the Pope and imbues him with super-strength and power. The Pope also gains a sidekick in Jesus Christ. Together the Pope and Jesus share a relationship like Joe Piscapo and Treat Williams in Dead Heat, but with plenty more dead bodies and tons more eye peeling creatures. God tasks them both with retrieving Saint Michael who is being held hostage by Lucifer. What ensues is a rescue mission between Hell and here. It’s definitely one that would sheppard the masses to the box office.

This is all just a small batch of suggestions, as there are literally thousands of other great stories out there. Some of these suggestions you may know, some may fall on deaf ears. All I can hope and offer is for a better set of circumstances when it comes to quality entertainment. Here’s hoping Hollywood actually listens to its fans rather than just dishing out what they think we want. Now it’s your turn, what horror comics would you like to see get the silver screen treatment?

For a little incentive, click here for a short film adaptation of Charles Burns’ Black Hole.

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Born in the steel scrap-yards of Lorain, Ohio, Zach Shildwachter is a VHS Vagabond wandering the Cleveland landscape in search of the perfect Horror movie and Banana flavored snacks in preparation for the Zombie Apocalypse. Until the Dead walk, our Hero remains an Aspiring Filmmaker, Compulsive Writer, Self-taught Artist, and amateur Super-Hero.

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